Nicola Sturgeon to attend parliament virtually and participate remotely amid SNP probe

Nicola Sturgeon will not return to the Scottish Parliament this week and will take part in proceedings virtually after police raided her home and arrested her husband earlier this month as part of a probe into SNP finances.

The former first minister has claimed the decision was made in advance to avoid overshadowing successor Humza Yousaf – with opposition members accusing Nicola Sturgeon of attempting to avoid scrutiny following the arrest of Peter Murrell, who was quizzed by police for almost 12 hours over party funds.

Officers also searched the home of Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon as well as the party’s HQ in Edinburgh before Mr Murrell was released without charge.

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It has now been revealed that the former first minister will participate in Scottish Parliament events virtually – and will not attend Holyrood in person amid calls from opposition parties for new leader Humza Yousaf to suspend her after a leaked video showed her urging the party’s ruling body to “be very careful” about suggesting it had financial problems

Nicola Sturgeon will not return to the Scottish Parliament this week and will take part in proceedings virtuallyNicola Sturgeon will not return to the Scottish Parliament this week and will take part in proceedings virtually
Nicola Sturgeon will not return to the Scottish Parliament this week and will take part in proceedings virtually

Her spokesman told The Scottish Sun: “To ensure the focus of this week is on the new First Minister setting out his priorities for the people of Scotland, Ms Sturgeon has always intended to participate remotely and intends to return to Holyrood in the near future.”

But Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Try as she might to avoid the spotlight, it’s clear that the former First Minister is at the heart of the chaos engulfing the SNP.

“The failures and secrecy of the Sturgeon era are overshadowing Humza Yousaf.

“Nicola Sturgeon has a responsibility to represent her constituents in parliament regardless of the scrutiny she is under.”

Leaked footage published this week by the Sunday Mail showed Nicola Sturgeon discussing finances at an NEC meeting playing down worries about the party's finances.

She said: "Just be very careful about suggestions that there are problems with the party's finances because we depend on donors to donate.

"There are no reasons for people to be concerned about the party's finances and all of us need to be careful about not suggesting that there is."

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The March 2021 NEC meeting took place just a few days before the first complaint was made to police about the SNP's finances.

Reports Nicola Sturgeon is planning to quit as an MSP are just “idle speculation”, according to the SNP’s former Westminster leader.

Ian Blackford also dismissed reports saying Nicola Sturgeon planned to step down as an MSP “sooner rather than later” telling the BBC: “I think what you’ve seen is idle speculation which is taking place.

“I speak to my colleague Nicola on a very regular basis and I can tell you that she’s focused on serving the interests of her constituents.”

Asked if she was proving to be a distraction, Mr Blackford rejected the idea, adding: “I think history will judge all of us and history, I think, will show a woman that’s led our country, that led us through the Covid pandemic, that has given inspiring leadership to all of us over the course of that period she’s been in leadership.”

Ms Sturgeon, he said, has “still got an awful lot to give”.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said the timing of Ms Sturgeon's claims - months before police launched an investigation into SNP finances - was "frankly astonishing" adding "The shocking lack of transparency among the toxic clique at the top of the SNP is what has got the party in its current mess.

"If Humza Yousaf wants to show he's determined to tackle the crisis within the SNP, he should suspend the party membership of Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said Nicola Sturgeon needed to “face up to scrutiny”.

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He added: “This simply isn’t good enough. Right now, we can’t focus on the priorities because of the silence and secrecy from the SNP high command.

“The nationalist psychodrama is undermining the credibility of the current government day after day.”



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